Review: My Week with Marilyn
My Week with Marilyn. (15.) Directed by Simon Curtis. Starring Eddie Redmayne, Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper and Toby Jones. ***
My Week with Marilyn (15) Director Simon Curtis
Starring Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper and Toby Jones
�If I said this film was nice, you’d probably take it the wrong way. But this is nice in a good way, nice in a very British way. There’s not a bitter or mean-spirited moment in the film – amazing when you consider it’s a story about actors and film-makers.
In 1956, Marilyn Monroe (Williams), newly married to Arthur Miller (Dougray Scott) travelled to Britain to shoot The Prince And The Showgirl at Pinewood with Laurence Olivier (Branagh), who is starring and directing. The My in the title is Colin Clark (Redmayne), a young man getting his break in the film industry working as third assistant director.
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Olivier calls his project the “lightest of comedies” and that certainly extends to this film, which gets along on little more than wistful nostalgia and reflected star glamour.
It’s a backstage culture clash piece: Monroe’s Hollywood method affectation jarring with the stuffy professionalism of the British stage thespians. She agonises over finding her character; they over hitting their marks. Understandably terrified by them, Monroe tries to soothe her insecurities with booze and pills and exacerbates the problems by constantly turning up late. When Miller heads home after a bust-up, she briefly dallies with young Colin.
It’s an old-fashioned British acting fest with a preposterously strong cast.There’s also Emma Watson, Julia Ormond, Zo� Wanamaker, Derek Jacobi and Philip Jackson. They are all very good – although with Williams and Branagh you are aware of the gap between them and Monroe and Olivier.
Probably the pick is Redmayne. It’s hard to make the cipher interesting and doubly so when he is an Old Etonian who grew up in a castle, is the son of the famous historian Sir Kenneth Clark and only got the job because the Oliviers were family friends. Only in England would such a character be the plucky resourceful underdog but Redmayne has a winning charm, like a dashing young Richard E Grant.
The film is an unquestioning celebration of Monroe, both as a beauty and a screen performer. Darling Larry is occasionally a little beastly to her but, ultimately, his little lapses are forgiven. The film is so even-handed that everybody comes out of it well.